Soon, in response to House Bill 2001, the Wilsonville City Council will consider increased density in the westernmost and current development in the Frog Pond neighborhoods. The current zoning for Frog Pond West is for the construction of almost exclusively single-family residences of relatively lower density, with higher density and attached housing (such as duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses) in later developments in Frog Pond East and South. HB 2001, passed in 2019, requires that the current zoning from Frog Pond West cannot exclude middle housing, such as attached housing such as duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and townhomes.
Undoubtedly, the passage of HB 2001 requires the Wilsonville City Council and the Planning Commission to revisit density and zoning in the Frog Pond West neighborhood to comply with the bill. However, in revisiting the zoning in that neighborhood, the City Council and Planning Commission are taking the opportunity to reach beyond the requirements of HB 2001 and mandate increased density of the entire development area beyond that which would be required by HB 2001. Simply complying with HB 2001 would add approximately five homes to Frog Pond West. Instead, efforts are underway to add approximately 30 homes at a minimum, while maintaining the higher density in Frog Pond East and South.
The zoning and planning for Frog Pond West included years of planning process, Planning Commission meetings, and City Council meetings. The option exists to simply meet the requirements of House Bill 2001 and honor the density determination of the previous Planning Commission and City Council.
Some argue that the Equitable Housing Strategic Plan, approved by Council, with Planning Commission participation, warrants a reconsideration of density in the Frog Pond West neighborhood. However, the Equitable Housing Strategic Plan was approved after the Frog Pond West density determination. Thus, the Equitable Housing Strategic Plan was approved assuming that the Frog Pond West neighborhood would be developed with lower density meeting the goals of the strategic plan.
Some also suggest that a desire to keep lower density in the Frog Pond West neighborhood stems from a not-in-my-backyard mentality, or a desire to exclude certain families from our community. That is not the motivation for sticking to density determinations that have already been made for Frog Pond West. For instance, one consideration for denser construction in later Frog Pond developments was to allow time for construction of the Boeckman Bridge, improvements to the intersection of 65th, Elligsen, and Stafford Roads, and to limit children traveling to school through an intersection that is partially developed.
Wilsonville is the model for diverse housing in the Portland metropolitan area and the entire state and has a much higher share of houses that are not single-family homes than many other nearby cities.
To increase density beyond the requirements of HB 2001, our city goes back on its word that followed years of planning process. When Frog Pond West was planned and approved, numerous citizens came to Council and Planning Commission Meetings to voice their opinions. It was through that input and process that a compromised density was determined.
We should not be a city that goes back on its word. Now is the time for Wilsonville to meet state requirements, not exceed them. Public input is needed yet again. Write your City Councilors and Planning Commission members; appear at meetings discussing Frog Pond West density. Please take advantage of your right to be heard, and our city will be better for it.
Ben West is a member of Wilsonville City Council and Eric Postma is a former planning commissioner
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